Jen Graybeal, a New York media agency executive, got upset when she found her postpartum body no longer fit into her pre-pregnancy black taffeta bridesmaid’s dress. Partly as a joke, she announced that, starting immediately, everyone at the agency would be doing a power walk at lunch.
To her surprise, not only did about half the employees embrace the idea, they even expanded it. Now, the blackboard in the Overit Media conference room says that once an hour on the hour, employees are invited to participate in two minutes of exercise to the music of Salt-N-Peppa:
9 am – Stretches
10 am – Sit-ups/Crunches
11 am – Leg lifts
Noon – Power Walk
1 pm – Lunges
2 pm – Push-ups/Planks
3 pm – Jumping jacks
4 pm – Arm dips
5 pm – Freestyle
This offbeat exercise program attracted employees who ranged from the totally unfit to weekend marathoners. All agree that getting up from wherever they are sitting to put in two minutes of active exercise every hour makes a huge difference in how they look and feel. They’re so into it that if a meeting makes them miss a session, they make up for it later in the day, using a timer. The employees who regularly participate are convinced that the program gives their productivity and creativity a boost.
Articles today call sitting the “new smoking.” The culture has grown accustomed to having people sit hour after hour—usually behind a computer screen. We tell ourselves we have no time to exercise because there are only so many hours in the day. But who could begrudge the body a two-minute break once an hour?
It helps that Overit has a relaxed corporate culture. I can’t see this happening at a business filled with suits. On the other hand, why not? If we can wear running shoes from the subway to the office, why not don them for two minutes an hour in the conference room? In fact, I would imagine that companies would applaud a program like this—if for no other reason than to cut back on health care costs for their increasingly healthy employees. And it would definitely be a plus for the telecommuting crowd.
When my friend heard this story, she laughed, saying, “That’s how two-year-olds do it. They bounce off the walls for two minutes, plop themselves on the floor to regroup—and then ricochet around the room again!”
Don’t we all envy the incredible energy of the young? We think growing up means learning how to sit still. What if we’ve got it all wrong? What if growing up actually means figuring out how to give our bodies what they need so they will last as long as we do?
The result after several months of this regimen? Jen and her bridesmaid’s dress now fit each other. That’s fortunate because the wedding is this month.